New Realtors swim against the tide
Sunday, April 26, 2009
By Christine DunnJournal Staff Writer
It may not be the best time to be selling luxury condominiums or getting a new real estate business off the ground, but the people who work for one of the newest real estate agencies in Providence are doing both of those things.
“We have no fear,” joked Rita Danielle Steele, a lawyer and associate broker at Geo Properties Inc., which was formed last summer by builder George Potsidis.
Last year, Potsidis bought a large Victorian at 441 Angell St., in Providence, near the heart of Wayland Square on the East Side.
The first floor is the office for Geo Properties, and two luxury condominiums are planned for the second and third floors. The condos, priced “from $799,000,” will feature private garaged parking, in-unit elevator access and a private exercise center.
Steele said Geo will not invest any more in finishing the condominiums until they have buyers. She said the buyers will get the opportunity to choose custom finishes, and the company will not over-invest during the soft market.
Steele, who is in her 20s, said she also has a small law practice but she has decided to make real estate the primary focus of her career. She said she is undeterred by the current state of the business.
“I just love real estate,” she said.
Although the state’s ranks of licensed real estate brokers and salespeople have thinned during the housing market downturn, there are always people who swim against the tide.
More than 200 people have enrolled this year in pre-license classes held for real estate salespeople by the Rhode Island Association of Realtors, and 53 are enrolled in broker education classes, according to Norma Mousseau, the association’s director of professional development.
Overall there has been a decline in the number of people licensed to sell real estate in Rhode Island since the housing bust. According to the state Department of Business Regulation, there were 3,965 real-estate salespeople and 2,207 brokers licensed in Rhode Island in 2008. Before renewal notices for a new two-year licensing period were sent out in early 2008, however, there were 5,485 salespeople and 2,866 brokers.
Steele said Geo Properties will specialize in representing an international clientele interested in investing in the Boston-to-Providence corridor. Principal broker Georgia Socratous is based in Cyprus, and the director of business management, Shamila Ahmed, is multilingual; she speaks English, Swedish and Urdu/Hindi, and she knows some basic German and Spanish.
One benefit to starting a new business during an economic slump is that it’s easy to find help. Steele said she recently advertised for an administrative assistant with just “five lines on craigslist.” Within 24 hours, she had 100 resumés.
Source: Providence Journal, Sunday, April 26, 2009.